I am new to ubuntu and after some month and a half running it side by side with Windows 7 I decided that it would be my main system, and so I just formatted the machine and installed it as the only OS. However, I still need to run some stuff that don't have options for ubuntu, just like netflix or to manage my Windows Phone system.

As a solution, I am thinking about running Windows XP on a VM, I just installed VirtualBox, but after some searching I saw that the best perfomance would be obtained if I install the Guest Additions. I don't intend to share folders, although I am concerned if installing guest additions would somehow expose my Linux system to Windows viruses. And I will probably use the network through windows xp vm either, but I won't surf on the web, I'll only eventually use netflix.

Well, the question literally is, as said on the title, is windows xp running on a virtual box with guest additions harmful for ubuntu? Does it may lead to viruses issues?

  • 2
    Windows virus is like fish and Ubuntu is like a tree. You can put a fish on a tree but then fish can't do much.
    – user68186
    Jan 9, 2014 at 20:15

8 Answers 8


As much as I would love to say that a virtualized sandboxed Windows does no harm to you I can't.

A virtual Windows behaves exactly like a Windows on bare metal, i.e. it is no less vulnerable to malware.

Whenever your run an unprotected copy of Windows it may quickly get infected by a virus coming from a file, a mail, a website, or an infected storage device. One of the main function all malware have is to replicate. Exactly this will happen on your virtual machine too.

The virus will not be able to infect your Ubuntu host, but it may

  • sit in files you had accessed from a compromised Windows (you will want to access files outside the VM sooner or later).
  • be able to spread from your infected virtual OS to your network, or to the world wide web.
  • in case you let your virtual OS access data files stored on the host machine, it may even be able to spy on you.
  • rare viruses may infect your router no less from a virtual machine. Just open a browser there to access your router's administration page from a VM if you are skeptical.

So in summary an infected virtual Windows will not be able to infect your Ubuntu installation, but it will still be a risk to you or to others. It is therefore strongly recommended to protect a virtual Windows with appropriate anti-virus software before you give it access to your network, or the internet.


You can run Windows inside Virtualbox and not worry about viruses, UNLESS you do shared folders. It would be possible for a Windows virus to drop executable Windows code in those shared folders, which could be run in WINE and, yes, screw up some things. That's as far as I can think it through.

Netflix in Virtualbox will probably perform quite terribly. The graphics, in particular, will probably suck. I've had a lot of success with this:



Both systems are separated. If Windows XP gets infected, it won't affect the normal functionality of Ubuntu. Virtual machines are sandboxed environments to run others OS's. There isn't any issues with Ubuntu if your Windows system gets infected.

This means that Linux will not protect Windows and whatever happens with Windows will not affect the normal functionality of Ubuntu.

  • Strictly speaking, there actually are viruses which targets virtual machines.
    – Hibou57
    Jan 9, 2014 at 21:43

I don't think it will lead to any harm. As far as I remember, the only way for someone to mess with your Ubuntu machine if you installed Wine application in it, and of course you didn't configure your UFW (firewall). A successful attack from Windows users will be as follows ;
* You installed wine application in ubuntu
* you forget to configure UFW (the firewall)
* you unintentionally clicked on a malware link from your win xp virtual box
* you opened ports and didn't secure them
. In your case, you are going to install WINDOWS XP in Virtual box, and VBox will create a disk image which will be impossible for users to get outside the disk image and mess with your Ubuntu, however, if you have wine in your ubuntu, and wrongly clicked a malware link from your Win XP virtual box, that will lead the attacker to your ubuntu and execute commands and harm your computer.
source : check ubuntu security


In normal use, viruses, Trojans and you cannot infect or damage your Ubuntu from within a Windows VM.


There are exceptions. The biggest risk is in sharing a partition with critical system files, or other important files between the VM and real machine. If you must share a partition, create one for that purpose and back the files up or move them out as quickly as you use them.

I was never successful creating and sharing a partition for use between XP and Ubuntu, so I set up and use DropBox for my file sharing and make daily backups of my DropBox folder from Ubuntu each night.

I set up and used XP VMs in DropBox for over 5 years. I only installed XP SP3 and NO UPDATES! I never used anti-virus software except Windows Defender and an on-line scanner that I occasionally use just to double check. I never had a virus and don't expect I ever will.

Here is how I protect myself:

I created one VM and installed XP (I now use Windows 7) and installed a few programs I would use on any Windows machine such as LibreOffice, DropBox and Skype. Then, instead of cloning the drive, I create a new VM "linked" to the original drive. This creates separate paths, or instances, of the drive that are unique. Each machine has a specific purpose. Most are used for only one piece of software such as my Bible Software. Others have multiple programs such as the one I use for video editing. I have three pieces of software I use to edit videos.

I NEVER browse the net or do downloads from Windows. I do that from Linux. On rare occasions I find a need to visit a specific website, but then I have reason to trust the site.

I always close the VM when I am not actively using it. When I do share files, I open the files in DropBox and save them there. At night, Ubuntu backs up all the files in DropBox to a dated folder in my backup drive.

If I ever find an infection or have a problem, disaster, etc. in Windows, I just roll back to the previous image of the machine and keep moving. All my important information is saved in DropBox or it's backup.


As people above have said: -an infected VM can infect your network -Always remember, that although virus infections on Linux are really really hard to achieve, they are theoretically possible. -never underestimate the ingenuity of crackers


Windows viruses are not compatible with Linux, imagine your virtual machine to be a sandbox. Trust me, you wont have any problem with viruses on your Linux, although you can always install an antivirus on Windows! I promise you will never get a virus from your virtual machine although you don´t install it.

PS: I recommend: Malwarebytes and AVG (install both).

  • You really can promise? That's a bit adventurous… Nobody can promise anything about security, and even less without being directly implicated in the case.
    – Hibou57
    Jan 9, 2014 at 21:47
  • Having the OS always up to date I can promise that the risk is minimal if the user is not stupid
    – Brask
    Oct 25, 2016 at 9:54

If a shared folder gets infected, I don't think Windows viruses can affect Ubuntu. Check this out

  • 2
    However, if that file is a network file and others on the network run Windows, then there might be a problem.
    – Mr. T
    Jul 30, 2015 at 18:44

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